Fleetwood boss sees plenty to improve

Richard Wood's own goal seals Fleetwood's fate
Richard Wood's own goal seals Fleetwood's fate

Steven Pressley knows there’s plenty of room for improvement after his first game as manager of Fleetwood Town ended in heartbreak.

A Richard Wood own goal in the last minute of normal time was enough to ensure there was no fairytale start for Pressley at Highbury as Coventry City, who sacked him in February, took the spoils 1-0.

Town did their best to put into practice the high-intensity pressing game demanded by their new boss, who kept a constant watch from the touchline alongside assistant Neil MacFarlane.

Ash Hunter had a shot tipped on to the post and David Ball saw another effort saved as Fleetwood enjoyed a second-half purple patch.

But the new tempo took a toll on Pressley’s players as Fleetwood ran out of steam and were punished at the death.

Jacob Murphy had almost benefited from Fleetwood’s tired legs when he left Jimmy Ryan in his wake but smashed his shot against the woodwork.

Pressley praised his side’s hard work but knows there must be a focus on tightening up at the back in the days ahead.

The new manager said: “We worked exceptionally hard on the detail during the 90 minutes and we gave away very little.

“We gave away very few clear opportunities within the game. The starting point of any rebuilding has to be keeping more clean sheets than we have done. It’s only one in 14 now for the club.

“We have to show more consistency in that department.”

And the new boss, a prolific note-taker, will have jotted down plenty of things he’ll want to address at Poolfoot Farm before the visit of Burton Albion next Saturday.

“There are elements we must improve on,” he added, “especially our speed on the counter-attack which improved in the second half.

“But in terms of the players trying to adapt to the new principles, I thought they did very well.

“Games are decided on little moments. We had a couple of opportunities and we had a moment early in the first half when we’ve hit the post. (David) Ball has had a good chance when he’s come on too.”

The former Sky Blues boss was only appointed on Tuesday and had only that night’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win over Shrewsbury Town (which he watched from the stands) as a benchmark.

“I based the selection on what I saw on Tuesday night,” he explained. “The players deserved the opportunity to impress again.

“I like continuity in terms of team selection. I think that’s important.

“I think the players needed the opportunity to show their worth again.”

Town ultimately looked like they’d run themselves into the ground.

And even the manager admitted they may have run out of steam in the final stages.

“Maybe just a little bit,” he said. “It’s something we have to work on.

“We didn’t want to allow them to play out (of defence). We wanted to force them to kick and in the second half we lost concentration on a number of occasions, which allowed them to play out and overworked us more than we’d have liked.

“Those are the elements and details we’ll continue to work on.

“I was pleased with the effort and pleased with the commitment, but ultimately it’s about winning.”

Town are to hold a fans’ forum in the Parkside Suite at Highbury from 7.30pm this Wednesday, when supporters will have the chance to meet new manager Steven Pressley and his assistant Neil MacFarlane.